Quantitative/Qualitative: The Paleozoic Debate

Javier Bassi Follari


In this article, I analyze the distinctions between quantitative and qualitative methods of research and the debates derived from them. I discuss the theoretical proposals of authors that 1. consider methods complementary, 2. deem the limit artificial, 3. argue that what is relevant is to sort between epistemological frameworks or between a critical or an uncritical use of such methods, and  4. consider  attacks on positivism outdated given that qualitative research methods already dominate  in many contexts. From post-Frankfurt School and Latin American critical approaches, I argue that research practices—either based on quantitative or qualitative methods—often derive from a self-centered and elitist conception and praxis of social science: those "being researched" do not take part in the configuration of the object of inquiry and rarely enjoy the benefits of the results of research projects they participate in. I conclude that the aforementioned distinctions and debates are useless, obsolete, and unjustified (even though they are reproduced and reified through academic teaching practices). I argue that the only relevant distinction is between research projects—not between methods—either aimed at social change or its obstruction. Finally, I present methods of research—as action research and systematization of practices—that defy the hegemonic conception and praxis of social science.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs140279


qualitative/quantitative debate; qualitative research; quantitative research; paradigms

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-15.2.1993

Copyright (c) 2014 Javier Bassi Follari

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